Tourism minister: Israel not restricting visitors to Palestinian areas

“We are not preventing anything. But, of course, we give incentives and encourage those who sell Israel, not those who sell other products.”

October 2, 2017 23:39
2 minute read.
Holy Land Custodian launches Christmas season from Jesus' birthplace Bethlehem

Holy Land Custodian launches Christmas season from Jesus' birthplace Bethlehem . (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Tourism Minister Yariv Levin pushed back against plans from earlier this year that Israel would bar tour operators from taking visitors to Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

“For many people that are coming to this region, they want to visit Bethlehem. We, of course, don’t prevent it. We give them all the ability to do that,” Levin told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

“We are not preventing anything. But, of course, we give incentives and encourage those who sell Israel, not those who sell other products,” referring to Palestinian tourism efforts.

In April, the Interior Ministry sought to discourage tourists from visiting Area A – Palestinian Authority-administered areas of the West Bank – by issuing a directive that would bar Israeli tour companies from taking groups there. The ministry then backtracked days later and retracted the order.

To visit the Palestinian territories, tourists must enter through Israeli border crossings or checkpoints. Often, if a tourist says that he or she plans on visiting the West Bank, security agents will interrogate the visitor and sometimes do not allow that individual to enter the country. Levin did not specifically address how visitors were banned from Israel.

The number of people refused entry to Israel has skyrocketed to some 16,534 people in 2016, compared to 1,870 in 2011, according to numbers that Haaretz newspaper got from the Population and Immigration Authority.

Some of those not issued an entry visa are tourists who specified that they were visiting Palestinian areas.


In terms of local tourism, Levin said he preferred for people to stay in Israeli hotels and hostels as opposed to Palestinian-owned venues.

“We’re responsible for bringing tourists to Israel, not to other places,” he said.

“And I do believe that the overall tourist experience for people staying in Israel is much better regarding every aspect, from nightlife to the quality of service to the personal security.”

And when asked if the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was affecting tourism, Levin said that such activists were having no effect on the country.

He also bemoaned how there was no cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian government officials for encouraging tourism.

“I think the Palestinians are doing every effort to sabotage tourism to Israel and to the whole region,” he said. “I think that if they would have encouraged their youth and people to stop the violence and stop terror and focus on building their economy, then we would’ve been able to work together. But if they look at people who stab tourists as heroes, then I have nothing to say to them.”

Levin had sought to launch a joint-marketing campaign with the Jordanians. Last year, Jordan saw more visitors than Israel, and Levin is seeking to capitalize on that market.

The tourism minister also praised the work of the Israeli security services in maintaining a sense of quiet that enables growing numbers of tourists.

“Not only in the aspect that we’re the best in fighting terror and that people are coming here and getting back safely,” he said. “Our airports are the safest. And I think Israeli is a very safe place regarding personal security. You can walk in the streets at night without any problem.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A missile is launched during a long and medium-range ballistic rocket launch drill in this undated p
October 23, 2018
Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?